So here's the thing, I've never had a cavity. No cavities, no braces, no cold squeal of metal or dentist's sharp needle has ever touched my teeth. It's ridiculous! I know! Even more ridiculous, I've always looked forward to my trips to the dentist's office. Who wouldn't? Every time I go I get to hear things like, "Beautiful teeth," or "Are you sure you're not an alien?" It's absolute proof of the power of positive reinforcement.
Everything changed last week. All of a sudden I had a sensitive tooth. Sometimes this happens and I thought it would go away but it didn't. It didn't occur to me there was anything wrong until suddenly, like a load of bricks falling from the sky, it hit me. I called my husband at work.
"Then you should go to the dentist," he said.
Honestly, why does he have to be so reasonable?
My dentist is Dr. Bob. There are three things you need to know about Dr. Bob. He is the nicest man ever, perpetually tan and drives a little porsche convertible. Aside from the fact that he's a dentist, that is the sum total of my knowledge about Dr. Bob. I made an appointment and sure enough, Dr. Bob discovered a cavity.
"It's just a little baby cavity. We'll fix you up so quick you won't feel a thing," he told me.
"Will you use novacaine?" I asked.
"Only if you want it," he said but then quickly added. "I don't think you'll need it at all."
"Will I need someone to drive me home?"
Dr. Bob started to laugh like he thought I was kidding. Then he realized I was serious and managed to compose himself. "Nope, it just numbs your mouth. You'll be fine to drive."
For the next week I agonized about what was to come. When I say agonized you should understand it was the kind where I wring my hands and wake my husband up in the middle of the night to remind him that I am in state of complete agony and terror.
Here are some examples of things not to say to someone who has just been diagnosed with a cavity and has no idea what it means to have it filled.
On the morning of the "procedure" I woke up at 4:00 and spent the next three hours trying not to hyperventilate and/or think about the remaining minutes until doomsday. At 7:30 I was in the chair. I looked up at Dr. Bob and said, "I'm terrified. I don't think I can go through with this."
"You'll be fine," said Dr. Bob and guess what?
I was. It didn't hurt. Not even a little bit. What can I say. Fear of the unknown is worse than giving birth to two children? Maybe? Let's just hope, for everybody's sake, I never have to have a root canal.